Yay, explosions! I’m going to see the Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend so I figure I’d celebrate with some action. Hope you enjoy Nell Draadich and Brando Blaugrunder’s magician’s duel. It’s a Sage vs. Wizard showdown.
Part 20 – Showdown
The chill of cool air nibbled at Nell’s arms. Moisture swirled around her, peppered with flecks of snow. This isn’t good.
She focused; tapping into the stones embedded in her robes and pushed away the chill. Wisp dipped closer, retreating into the bubble of warmth.
“Relax Wisp,” Nell said. “You don’t want to burn off the air too quickly. He’s put a time limit on the duel.”
“How observant of you.” Brando pulled another stone from his jacket and hurled it skyward. Tendrils of ice jutted from the walls and suspended it into the air. “There is indeed a time limit. Can your flames melt my ice in time?”
Nell paced to the wall, the bubble of warmth waned as she approached and rolling steam poured into the air. She raised a hand to the wall and the steam formed into volatile swirling clouds. Lightning crackled within and a bolt lashed out at her.
She let out a yelp of surprise. The conflicting temperatures are making a storm. The weakened iced reformed the instant she stepped back and Brando didn’t need to lift a finger to make it happen.
Brando extended his arms. “Do you understand, now? How outclassed you are? Your flames are flawed, completely at the mercy of the other elements. It only destroys and consumes. When you take away its source of power and it is harmless.”
“Perhaps,” Nell said, clenching a hand. “It’s the nature of the elements to rely on each other. Your plan is to quell my flames? You missed a spot.”
She gestured, sending wisp tunneling into the ground at her feet. A shockwave of power pulsed underneath them and the ground cracked and shifted.
“The earth below?” Brando flinched, casting his hands downward to summon ice. It filled the cracks and quelled the tremors. He paused, relishing the moment of silence and laughed. “Pathetic. Nothing a little bit of—”
A torrent of molten lava burst from the ice, forming a controlled plume. Nell raised her arms directing it to pour around them. Violent steam lashed at their feet and the ice walls cracked and strained. Brando snapped his fingers, shattering the high cradled stone. The air around them shifted as it was pulled to one place.
“Ha, I still win,” Brando said, breathing heavily. The air grew stale and thin. “With no air your precious flames will—”
“Magma will still burn,” Nell said, narrowing her eyes. “Your bluff is useless.”
Brando ignored her, pouring his magic into preserving the shell of ice a wall of shifting obsidian formed around them. It would only be a matter of time before Nell had the advantage. Her vision swam from the thin air and the magma sputtered dangerously.
Wisp kept it in control though, as long as she held on the he would never let harm come to her. The wall behind her exploded into pebbles, sending a wave of shattered rocks to clatter at her feet. Sonnie stepped in, cradling a bleeding fist infused the power of the light.
“What is this interference?” Brando said, roaring. “I win by default, you can’t do this.”
“Wrong,” Sonnie said. “You already forfeited by trying to suffocate Nell. You know the rules, Brando, you broke them. A duel is to show superiority, not your ability to kill your opponent.”
Brando clicked his tongue in irritation. He gestured skyward and halted the maelstrom of wind. The stone shattered alongside the walls of ice, splintering them into fine powder snow. Nell drew in a long breath of fresh air and stopped the flow of lava, wisp burst from the funnel and floated over to her. The wisp had returned to its normal red self.
“This isn’t over,” Brando said, regaining his composure. He turned on his heels and stormed away.
Inhabitants of the city spoke with excited whispers. Culvir worked to talk down the city guard, who shouted and pointed at the half formed obsidian wall. Nell approached and bowed politely. “I can fix this, I’m sorry for the trouble.”
“Well you better,” one of the guards said. “What are we going to do with this stuff?”
“I can break it up so it can be moved. Obsidian has many uses, as long as you don’t mind me taking some for personal use?”
“As long as it’s gone we don’t care what you do with it.”
“Idiots,” Culvir said. “The rocks she gives you will be worth much more than the damages inflicted. Obsidian is a fine material for arrowheads and weapons.”
“It makes a fine material for crafts as well,” Nell said, smiling.
He glared at her. “If you wanted to completely waste it, sure.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Elder Topel said, stepping closer. “Nell seems a little tired. I’ll fashion a few focusing stones from it, have the portion given to the Governor for repairs and have the remaining portion shipped to the Hunter’s Organization.”
“Half of the remainder will be donated to local craftsmen,” Sonnie said. He approached, rubbing away the tension in his hand. “Nell has a duty to uphold to the Hunter’s association, but her wishes are equally important.”
“Sonnie, are you alright? I didn’t mean to get you hurt.”
“You didn’t. This wound came from my personal whims. I would have preferred to punch that twit rather than a wall.”
“Agreed,” Culvir said. He turned to the guardsmen. “You’re worried about Nell leaving a mess? That man tried to kill her.”
“I don’t know anything about that; you can file an official report against Mr. Blaugrunder if you want.”
- Blaugrunder? Oh, so he’s bought them off. Nell sighed, looping an arm in his. “Relax, Culvir. With you and Sonnie looking over me he wouldn’t have been able to get away with anything.”
Culvir scowled at her, but she sensed his hesitation. Sonnie smirked and turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” Nell said.
Sonnie stopped walking without turning. “I did my part. I brought Brando to you, didn’t I?”
“But, we should be working together to find Hadeos.”
“I’ll work with your when the need arises. In the mean time I refuse to play third wheel. Don’t forget, Culvir, I may be tolerating you being around Nell, but your life is still in my hands. You hurt her and you’re a dead man.”
Culvir didn’t take the bait and watched Sonnie vanish into the chattering crowds.
Topel rolled up his sleeves and raised his staff, sending a pulse of power through the air. The Obsidian snapped away from the ground and crumbled to bits. The crowd let out a collective gasp.
Nell tugged on Culvir’s arm and grinned. “Come on, let’s sneak off somewhere private while Master keeps them entertained.”
He nodded and moved swiftly back to the safety of the Gilded Peanut.